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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Stimulatory effect of Echinacea purpurea extract on the trafficking activity of mouse dendritic cells: revealed by genomic and proteomic analyses

Shu-Yi Yin134, Wen-Hsin Wang1, Pei-Hsueh Wang1, Kandan Aravindaram1, Pei-Ing Hwang2, Han-Ming Wu5 and Ning-Sun Yang134*

Author Affiliations

1 Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Taiwan International Graduate Program (TIGP) - Molecular and Biological Agricultural Sciences Program, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

4 Graduate Institute of Biotechnology, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan

5 Department of Mathematics, Tamkang University, Taipei County, Taiwan

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:612  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-612

Published: 1 November 2010



Several Echinacea species have been used as nutraceuticals or botanical drugs for "immunostimulation", but scientific evidence supporting their therapeutic use is still controversial. In this study, a phytocompound mixture extracted from the butanol fraction (BF) of a stem and leaf (S+L) extract of E. purpurea ([BF/S+L/Ep]) containing stringently defined bioactive phytocompounds was obtained using standardized and published procedures. The transcriptomic and proteomic effects of this phytoextract on mouse bone marrow-derived dendritic cells (BMDCs) were analyzed using primary cultures.


Treatment of BMDCs with [BF/S+L/Ep] did not significantly influence the phenotypic maturation activity of dendritic cells (DCs). Affymetrix DNA microarray and bioinformatics analyses of genes differentially expressed in DCs treated with [BF/S+L/Ep] for 4 or 12 h revealed that the majority of responsive genes were related to cell adhesion or motility (Cdh10, Itga6, Cdh1, Gja1 and Mmp8), or were chemokines (Cxcl2, Cxcl7) or signaling molecules (Nrxn1, Pkce and Acss1). TRANSPATH database analyses of gene expression and related signaling pathways in treated-DCs predicted the JNK, PP2C-α, AKT, ERK1/2 or MAPKAPK pathways as the putative targets of [BF/S+L/Ep]. In parallel, proteomic analysis showed that the expressions of metabolic-, cytoskeleton- or NF-κB signaling-related proteins were regulated by treatment with [BF/S+L/Ep]. In vitro flow cytometry analysis of chemotaxis-related receptors and in vivo cell trafficking assay further showed that DCs treated with [BF/S+L/Ep] were able to migrate more effectively to peripheral lymph node and spleen tissues than DCs treated as control groups.


Results from this study suggest that [BF/S+L/Ep] modulates DC mobility and related cellular physiology in the mouse immune system. Moreover, the signaling networks and molecules highlighted here are potential targets for nutritional or clinical application of Echinacea or other candidate medicinal plants.